In September, counsel for impacted landowners wrote a public letter articulating concerns and a list of questions for Texas Central Railway through its attorneys at Jackson and Walker. After an exchange of letters, Texas Central’s attorney answered a few of the questions presented.
However, Calvin V. House is seeking more specific answers about the railroad’s plans. He has filed a petition under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 202 in the 298th District Court in Dallas County.
If granted, a Rule 202 order would allow the landowners’ attorneys to depose Texas Central either orally or through written questions to ”investigate a potential claim or suit.” The landowners’ September letter informed Texas Central of their intention to file a Rule 202 petition if questions were not answered satisfactorily.
“Texas Central’s refusal to admit the obvious—that the project is dead—has harmed and continues to harm [the] landowner,” the petition reads. “[The] landowner cannot sell or refinance his property without first disclosing that Texas Central has stated an intention to construct the project through his property,” adding that the result has been a devaluation of the landowner’s property.
House wishes to depose a corporate representative of Texas Central to investigate possible claims, such as declaratory relief stating that “Texas Central is not planning to construct and operate an interurban electric railway.” House believes such relief would free his property from the encumbrance of its relationship with the project.
According to the court filings, If the deposition clarifies that Texas Central is “actively taking steps to construct the project,” then House likely would not proceed with any further legal action.
Since last spring, Texas Central’s plans have been unclear to many landowners along the proposed route.
Former CEO and President Carlos Aguilar announced his resignation from the project in June.
On July 8, FTI Consulting issued a press release about the status of the project after the Texas Supreme Court ruled in its favor in an eminent domain case.
“Texas Central has made significant strides in the project over the last several years and we are moving forward on a path that we believe will ensure the project’s successful development. We look forward to being able to say more about this at an appropriate time in the near future,” the statement read.
Michael Bui, a senior managing director at FTI who specializes in corporate restructurings, is in charge at Texas Central according to a letter from Texas Central’s attorney Robert Neblett.
Other indicators that Texas Central’s current operations are suspended include its disconnected landowner hotline, its Houston office is listed for lease, and delinquency notices for overdue homeowner association fees sent to the Dallas headquarters address have been returned undeliverable.
Funding for the project has been questionable since former chairman Drayton McLane revealed that the cost of the project had ballooned to $30 billion.
At one point, Aguilar admitted the project needed federal funding. “I think whatever happens with the infrastructure [bill] is key to us. I believe that would be the final element that would bring us together,” he said.
However, according to the Rule 202 petition, Texas Central has not applied for a federal loan, nor has it applied for a construction permit through the Surface Transportation Board that would include an analysis of the economic viability of the project, engineering work, and application of the rules promulgated by Federal Railroad Administration.
Texas Central said it does not comment on pending litigation in response to The Texan’s request.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.